Planning your trip to The Cinque Terre, Italy

A travel guide to planning your visit to the Cinque Terre, Italy.

Cinque Terre trekking travel guide

Oh me, oh my, how surreal of a travel destination! Cinque Terre translates to “five lands,” which consist of the five villages near the La Spezia province. From North to South they line the coast...

  • Monterosso al Mare
  • Vernazza
  • Corniglia
  • Manarola
  • Riomaggiore

Cinque terre is outstanding! This traditional Italian costal town is a popular vacation spot (as we found out the hard way), but it is worth the visit. The area has been so well preserved and untouched by modern development. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen!

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I booked an AirBnB in La Spezia thinking it would be an easy close location to call home base...I do NOT recommend this. La Spezia is a confusing bus ride through the town to the train sttion and about a 15 minute train ride to the Cinque Terre.

Not fun.

So what happened was...we finally found our AirBnB in La Spezia after tons of work figuring out the buses we walked in and said, "NOPE" and headed out on an adventure with no idea where we were staying that night. You cannot go wrong with staying in any of the five cities.

See my post on the 'Breakdown of the Five Cities' to find the one you plan to call home for your trip. (Or do what Shane and I did and stay in a different town each night--not necessary, but it was fun.)

Spoiler Alert: Our favorite cities were Riomaggiore (swimming & nightlife) & Vernazza (food & fancy-ness).

Monterosso al Mare was beautiful with its long sandy beach, but it was also the busiest of the cities and we are not a fan of crowds.

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So to find the place we ended up staying in the Cinque Terre we took the train to the first town (south to north from La Spezia), Riomaggiore. We walked up the street to the first hotel sign we saw and asked for a room.

Score!We got the most beautiful hotel room for about $100/night including breakfast. We stayed at Hotel Locanda Ca 'dei Duxi I recommend this spot. There are a lot of stairs leading up to the room, but the view from the room was beautiful.

There are a ton of other beautiful places to stay, don't be lazy and do some research in your price range.

I highly recommend a hotel versus AirBnB in these cities because they are close to the shops & activities happening in town, plus they include amenities. There may be some AirBnBs in the towns, but those need to be booked way ahead of time.

Make sure to book a rental spot with WiFi if you need it and a washer to do your laundry. Also ask ahead of time about stairs if they will be a difficulty for you or your group.

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To get there you can take a train from Florence (2.5-3 hours) or a train from Genoa (1-2 hours).

Cinque Terre can be explored by foot, but be prepared to walk a lot. The train easily takes you between the cities, but you can also hike the trails. Do the trail hike where you can visit all five cities in a day, but split it up in a couple days to spend more time in each place. If you do not want to do the famous hike, you can buy a ticket to take the train between each town.

Train Tips:

  • Buy a Cinque Terre Card to travel between the cities (more cost effective)
  • Find the train schedules on the Trenitalia website
  • The train passes through all villages (easiest-can travel between towns in minutes) & you can walk to small villages or take the green bus

Trail Tips:

  • Trails are hard packed dirt or loose stones, so I would recommend wearing running/tennis shoes or sturdy hiking sandals--hiking boots are overkill
  • You can see the full list of trails on the Park’s site, but it is pretty confusing
  • When you get there just ask the villagers for trailheads & reference a free paper map
  • You can get a map at tourist offices located near or in train stations
  • Pack a small day-pack with one liter of water, sunscreen, a bathing suit, a snack, and possibly a change of clothes

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Make sure to exchange your money to euros.

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Eat the seafood pesto pasta at one of the family restaurants. You will never taste anything this amazing in your life. Also try the pesto pasta, it is the specialty of the region.Basil gelato (Gelateria Stalin) in Vernazza is as well.

The pizza in Vernazza with fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella was the best pizza (Pizzeria da Ercole) I have ever had in my life.

▲ s u r r o u n d i n g   a r e a   a c t i v i t i e s 

  • Market in La Spezia on Fridays (cheap clothes & shoes)
  • Market at Forte Dei Marmi on Wednesdays (designer discount clothes)
  • Market in Levanto on Wednesdays (food & clothes)
  • Day trip to Portovenere on the ferry
  • Day trip to Sestri Levante on the train
  • Drive to Lerici & Tellaro (if you have a car)